Skip to main content

Maserati 250F

Maserati 250F 1950s classic GP racing car

Maserati was a red-blooded racing équipe, if ever there was one! Founded in 1926, it took the team just eight years to become the world's biggest builder of single-seater race-cars. For the first twenty years of its existence, the Maserati marque was devoted solely to racing. By the time it got around to production cars, then, it had learned a thing or two! Certainly, when the 250F hit the track - in 1954 - masses of technical know-how had been already accrued.

The car was fully prepared for the rigours ahead! Its straight-six engine was equipped with three twin-choke Weber carburettors. As with most other GP cars of the era, the motor was front-mounted, and powered the rear wheels. To the tune of 185mph! Capacity was 2,490cc. The chassis comprised a tubular frame, independent wishbone/coil spring front suspension, and a de Dion rear axle. And then came a new 250F! Unleashed in '57, it featured a five-speed gearbox, and fuel injection. Power had been upped to 270bhp. The bodywork had been revised. It was now stiletto-sharp at the front ... well, getting on that way! Brakes, too, had been uprated. The 250F was now at the peak of its development. Which was a very good thing - given the talent of the man who would be driving it!

Juan Manuel Fangio was already a celebrated driver. This new car would bring him his fifth World Championship. On the way to that, the Argentinian's win in the German GP - at the Nürburgring - has gone down in legend. Peter Collins - in a Ferrari - was the hapless victim of a genius at work. Collins' Ferrari was way out in front ... before Fangio turned up the wick! Four-wheel drifting his 'Maser' with robotic precision, it was but a question of time before he caught up with Collins. As he went by him, it was as if man and machine melded. Probably, it was the finest performance either of them gave - Fangio, or the 250F, that is. Motor racing as science - and sporting endeavour of the highest order. Fortunate, indeed, were those in attendance - that August day, in Germany!


Popular posts from this blog

Chrysler Airflow

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! The lines of its bodywork were drawn from aerodynamics - at a time when that discipline was a mere glint in a boffin's eye! Certainly, it was far from being routinely used in automotive design. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgling craft. A 'wind tunnel' was duly developed. Even today, such systems are considered arcane ... but, in the early '30s, they were tantamount to a black art! The engineering wizards overseeing the project were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton. Breer was the catalyst ... he had been first to be smitten by the science of aerodynamics. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when Orville Wright - father of aviation - was brought on board! More than 50 test cars were built. By means, then, of painstaking refinements, the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.But the Airflow was not just about aerodynamics. 'Weight lo…

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…